The establishment of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation system came at a time when injured workers were engaged in almost exclusively manual labor. Today’s job market, however, has shifted from predominantly manual labor. The obligation to provide workers’ compensation benefits, however, has not changed.
Each year thousands of persons in occupations thought to be immune from work place accidents are injured. These injuries include the effects of repetitive use such as carpal tunnel syndrome, often the product of day long use of a computer keyboard, exposure to work place toxins, and the daily stress which has led to difficult, and in some situations, hostile work environments.
Technical support personnel and salespersons who are injured while making calls on customers are also afforded protection under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act regardless of whether they may have contributed to, or actually caused the accident in which they are injured. The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits to any worker injured while performing his employer’s work, on the premises or off, regardless of who is at fault. Thus, for example, a salesperson who causes a motor vehicle accident is not barred from recovery of workers’ compensation benefits while he may be barred from successfully bringing a lawsuit in the very same accident.
Over the past several decades the incidence of emotional injuries associated with stress of today’s demanding employment market debilitate countless others. So long as the work place stressors are a major contributing cause of an injured worker’s psychological condition disability payments and medical care to address the condition may be covered by Massachusetts workers’ compensation.
The issue that is most critical in these matters is not necessarily whether a person suffers from a disabling condition, but rather whether that disabling condition arose out of and in the course of employment, terms of art for the lawyers who practice this area of law. These terms of art require injured workers to seek the advice of counsel to even the playing field with the insurance company that most certainly will retain counsel.
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